Gay parents fight with Thai surrogate for custody of their daughter

American Gordon Lake, left, and Manuel Santos, right, walk with their baby Carmen, center, at the Central Juvenile and Family Court in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. The couple has opened a high-profile custody battle in Thailand for a baby girl born to a surrogate mother, who decided she wanted to keep the child when she found out they were gay.

American Gordon Lake, left, and Manuel Santos, right, walk with their baby Carmen, center, at the Central Juvenile and Family Court in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. The couple has opened a high-profile custody battle in Thailand for a baby girl born to a surrogate mother, who decided she wanted to keep the child when she found out they were gay. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

BANGKOK (AP) — An American-Spanish same-sex couple opened a high-profile custody battle in Thailand on Wednesday for a baby girl born to a surrogate mother, who decided she wanted to keep the child when she found out they were gay.

The case is complicated by the fact that Thai law does not recognize same-sex marriages and also by a new law that bans commercial surrogacy, which took effect after baby Carmen’s birth.

The couple — American Gordon Lake and Spaniard Manuel Santos, both 41 — have been stuck in Thailand since launching their legal battle after Carmen was born in January 2015.

“It’s the day we’ve been waiting for — for a long, long time. Today is one of the most important days of our lives,” Lake said outside Bangkok’s Juvenile and Family Court. “The court should give us custody of Carmen because it’s the right thing to do.”

Lake is the biological father of baby Carmen, who is now 14 months old, while the egg came from an anonymous donor, not the Thai surrogate, Patidta Kusolsang.

When Carmen was born, Patidta handed over the baby to Lake and Santos, who left the hospital with the infant. But they say Patidta then changed her mind and refused to sign the documents to allow Carmen to get a passport so they could leave Thailand.

Lake and Santos were told she had thought they were an “ordinary family and that she worried for Carmen’s upbringing,” according to a message Lake posted on a crowd funding site that has raised $36,000 to help cover the costs of the trial and staying in Thailand.

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